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Slut!: Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,610 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
Girls may be called "sluts" for any number of reasons, including being outsiders, early developers, victims of rape, targets of others' revenge. Often the labels has nothing to do with sex -- the girls simply do not fit in. An important account of the lives of these young women,Slut! weaves together powerful oral histories of girls and women who finally overcame their sexu ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published August 22nd 2000 by Harper Perennial (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 25, 2012 Abby rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Intended to be an exposee into the underbelly of young adult women, Slut purports to examine the power dynamic between young women and men that leads them to label others, deserving or undeserving, of the name "slut". The author had so many amazing opportunities to really delve into the psychology behind the label of "slut" as attached to a teenage girl. Instead, she produced a regurgitation of The Body Project and Reviving Ophelia for Cosmo magazine.

Many times, in arguing for more equality bet
May 05, 2007 Brandy rated it liked it
Less an "interesting look" and more a "cursory glance" at sexual harassment in schools. It includes some stories from women who were considered the school sluts and have gone on to become strong, independent women, who credit their high-school reputations with their self-assuredness now. Unfortunately, I doubt that's the case for most of the girls saddled with those reputations. Slut! doesn't really cover the main reasons this sort of thing happens, or even why, but it does break the girls into ...more
Oct 22, 2008 Daniela rated it really liked it
While reading this book I learned a lot of things. The troubles many females go through in their teen years. People don't realize it, but an insult such as slut could live on a woman's life not only her teen years, but as an older woman as well. A point that author Laura Tanenbaum stated in which really caught my attention was when she stated, if a man were to be sexually active, positive expressions would be a stud, ladies' man, Romeo and the list goes on. For a negative expression, there's wom ...more
Feb 05, 2009 Stephanie rated it it was ok
Hmmm, I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked all the personal stories and specific examples, but I really just felt the book was a sob story. I get that repercussions of being called a slut can be quite serious, and I have no doubt that it continues today, but the book never came up with any real solution. It didn't leave me feeling inspired to make a change or to really stand up and fight against the injustice that is a woman's sexuality. In fact, it made me feel the opposite, that ther ...more
Feb 25, 2014 Su rated it liked it
Slut! was a pretty good book. I found it to be extremely repetitive and narrow in its treatment of "slut-bashing" or as we more commonly refer to it today "slut-shaming", but it did offer many good insights into the culture that informs the practice - particularly from an American perspective.

That being said, I would like to note that part of my reason for not "loving" it is due to the edition I have. I'm not sure if an updated edition of Slut! has been released, but the copy I own is from its
Jul 25, 2010 Allison rated it really liked it
This book covered a lot of ground in not a lot of pages, and the author was able to bring most of it together using some really interesting and insightful analysis. She has some excellent ideas for the motivation behind girl-on-girl sexual harassment -- competition arising from a sex-wide society-imposed inferiority complex -- and the word "slut" as a catch-all phrase to enhance the divide between "good girls" and "bad girls." Her discussion of slut-shaming as a false deterrent from "promiscuous ...more
I really only made it to page 100... i can even tell you what line made me say "you know... i just cant read this anymore". But ill do it tomoroow, im tired tonight.

The exact sentence that made me go "wow this is really bullshiit"... was "These girls unrealistic expectations of fusing love and sex led directly to profound unhappiness." Ok, i know she tries to balance it out in the next paragrapgh (because i just read it when i looked up the quote) rather poorly, but its her entire TONE
Jan 15, 2009 Kiwi rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kiwi by: Snoopy
Snoopy handed me this book to read. I'm very glad she did.

Reading this book alerted me to some high school aspects that had gone reasonably beyond my observance. I was pinned a "prude"--a gay prude, which somehow confused people more, but one nonetheless. I did not experience the bad reputation of being pegged for a "slut" for sexual acts OR just being a freak. (Rather than girls calling me a slut just to encompass my not fitting in, they went along to say I was just a strange freak. I appreciat
Dec 20, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
I think this is an important book. At least, the subject matter certainly is, and I've yet to read another book that discusses it so well, though I've heard good things about Reviving Ophelia. The author manages to present the facts and psychological impact of the issue on both boys and girls, and remains fairly objective. Though it occasionally comes across that she's advocating sexual promiscuity, I think that those who believe that's actually what she's advocating are missing the point: Tanen ...more
Aug 27, 2009 Heather rated it it was ok
I had 3 problems with this book.

1. It outright says that males don't face similar ridicule or pressure. This is completely inaccurate. Sexuality is used against boys just as much as girls. Boys are called fags and sissies. Their masculinity is questioned and they are pressured to be promiscuous in order to have "status" in the social hierarchy. In one portion of the book the author discusses a study in which children are asked what they would think if their bodies were switched for that of the o
Jun 16, 2008 Erin rated it did not like it
Wow- two bad books in a row! This book was so bad that it was funny. The author, Leora Tanenbaum is a perfect example of an ugly girl who hates society because she never fit in. She champions abortion as a form of birth control and seems the type to cheer a Girls Gone Wild commercial instead of understanding just how bad an influence that type of trash is. She mistakes promiscuity for equality and thinks that in order to be equal, women must lower their morals & values to that of basest men. ...more
Amalia Acorda-fey
Mar 18, 2008 Amalia Acorda-fey rated it really liked it
This was a good book. I of course was initially attracted to this book because of the title, but as i read on it gave great insight into the real happenings of slut-bashing. I bet you all can figure out what slut-bashing is, and i wonder if you realize that i happens in women of all ages, not just junior high/high school. The author shared many stories of girls and women that were labeled sluts themselves, and how they either prevailed and left high school with dignity, and also how many girls w ...more
Mar 10, 2008 julia rated it really liked it
Recommended to julia by: NPR
What a great idea for a book. The author solicited women through the newspaper to tell their stories of being the "slut" of their highschool. Its amazing how many women felt exactly the same, how they had to deal with the same bizarre stories of gangbanging the football team and hotdogs and every other gross thing girls and boys say about their highschool "slut". And sadly, many of them still deal with the damage that did to their self-esteem.
Oct 06, 2014 Jennifer rated it liked it
C'est un livre dont j'ai beaucoup apprécié la diversité des expériences de vie relatées dans les témoignages et qui est venu me chercher à plusieurs niveaux. L'analyse était plus que pertinente et toujours d'actualité.

Or, le contenu était très redondant et j'ai fini par perdre l'intérêt. Dommage car cette formule de livre et son thème sont clairement un must.
Aug 27, 2014 Tina rated it liked it
Ugh! Well, it had some good moments but the stories are not universal, as few experiences of feminism and sexism can be. It is the story of one woman's experience and the experiences of others like her- white, upper- middle to upper class. I think, it did give a fair account of the kinds of behaviors that girls enter into both willingly and unwillingly and that affect girls' reputations and their self-views. It does offer a few reason why girls are willing to "become" sluts, but I do not think i ...more
I picked up Slut! on the strong recommendation of a friend. Leora Tanenbaum's compilation and commentary from her interviews with women and girls who have been labeled as "sluts." I felt like it was really important for these women to have their say. Given that many of them were labeled regardless of circumstances (one for refusing to have sex, one for being raped by a friend's boyfriend, all of them for sticking out in some way). The problem with slut-bashing is that once someone is labeled as ...more
McKenzie Richardson
This was a truly amazing book! Janenbaum conducted a sort of unofficial qualitative study comprised of interviews of fifty girls and women from various age groups. The stories these interviewees tell were emotionally difficult to read at times, but all of them carried an important message. Janenbaum did a superb job of analyzing the girls' and women's experiences in an easy-to-understand fashion. She also incorporated popular news stories dealing with the subject as well as her own personal expe ...more
Natalie Logue
Aug 11, 2012 Natalie Logue rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a collection of lives told from women who were once girls living on the outskirts of their societies - not always socio-economically. I'm always desperately attracted to these books about girls who get reputations for being a whore, slut, bitch, whathaveyou, and I think it's because there is this huge double standard that goes into the creation of these stereotypes as well as the utter falsity of the accusations. In fact, what amazes me most, is that often the girls who engage in sexuall ...more
Feb 12, 2014 C rated it it was ok
Confession: I didn't enjoy reading this book, but I want it to be rated highly so that others will read it.

Thing is, this was basically my story. So while I was initially grateful to see the reality of my experience validated and to nod my head at the recognition that what I endured made me a stronger person, at some point I started to feel that I already knew everything she was saying. And at that point, reading about and thinking back on all the cultural bullshit that girls have to deal with
Feb 21, 2014 Teresa rated it liked it
I started out with high hopes for this book but was disappointed to find it kind of shallow. At least that is my first impression, I will probably return to it and might find something deeper the second time around. That said it is thought provoking as well as a good start into the subject. I think every reader will get something of worth out of it.
For me where the book really got good was around the section; "The culture of sexual entitlement", which started to address more of what I had expec
Nov 09, 2008 Angela rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teenagers
Recommended to Angela by: Monica
Shelves: nonfiction, feminist
I read Slut! for the first time as a senior in college on the recommendation of my roommate. She commented to me something along the lines of having read it long after coming to many of the realizations described in the book & wished she'd read it in middle school or high school.

I read it and had to agree; I found myself wishing it were required reading for ALL teenagers, male & female. As for me, I'd already learned those lessons -- in middle & high school, the hard way.

As someone w
May 29, 2012 Tortla rated it it was ok
Shelves: feministy, memoiry, essays
Incredibly dated narratives of "sluts," centered around the author's own experience as a "slut" but too personally invested to have the proper distance for insightful representation of these narratives. Overall a simplistic, self-indulgent, repetitive, and disappointing read. Full of misplaced (stereotypical "feminazi") reactionary feminist rhetoric.

It would be a suckysuckybook, but Tanenbaum is self-aware enough that the book seems aware of some of its anecdotal/reactionary flaws (if not how ut
Slut! Growing up female with a bad reputation is an exploration behind the common practice of 'slut-bashing.' Leora Tanenbaum, labeled a slut herself in high school, intersperses the stories of her interviewees with a critique of what she sees as sexual double standards and sexual harassment. Though somewhat dated (it's been a while since I've seen Jenny Jones mentioned), this subject has become more relevant in the age of technology-enabled bullying. Most girls get called sluts or worse to be m ...more
Paula Shulse
Feb 16, 2016 Paula Shulse rated it really liked it
Very well written and enlightening. I witnessed quite a bit of this behavior in middle school and high school and wish that there had been reading material for we girls back then to help us process how to deal with it.
Apr 05, 2008 Le'jayah rated it liked it
Recommends it for: 13 and up!
Recommended to Le'jayah by: Sally, Amalia,
This book opened my eyes to the little things around me. For example, gossip and why it happens. I learned that even after many years many things have not changed. Nowadays slut is put in casual conversation still meaning to degrade someone. This book was published in the year 2000 and things were changing then. But now its 2008, eight years later and the similarities outweight the differences. From this book the thought of being yourself was reinforced for me. Because no matter what anyone says ...more
Jun 06, 2015 Brandy rated it really liked it
It's an overall worthwhile read. Only downside is the people who could benefit from it most are the least likely to read it. I would have given it 5 stars except it seems to get repetitive and fail to add "more" after a certain point.

The book is unlikely to change anything about women slut bashing each other and men using it as a power tool but is interesting. As in, yeah, it's usually nothing to do with how much sex a woman/girl has had that gets them labeled a slut. And examining the ways it g
McArthur Library Staff Picks
The title grabs your attention, but the topic is serious. Teens and young women may be labeled "slut" for all kinds of cruel reasons, and their reputations and self-esteem are damaged permanently.
Feb 28, 2012 Melissa rated it liked it
This book was somewhat informative, although it was written 12-13 years ago so half of the facts couldn't be taken seriously anymore, such as studies ranging as far back as the eighties. The stories written by girls who were stuck with a "slut" label in high school/college were interesting, but it did not help prove the author's point, in fact they almost disproved her points in some instances. They were counter productive, but I did enjoy reading them. However, the author did make some importan ...more
May 08, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it
A really interesting book on why girls are called sluts, what that even means, and how it is harmful to them. When a girl/woman is called "bad", it pretty much always is a comment on her sexual life, whether or not it is true. A very provocative quick read, from start to finish about 3 hours. I would highly recommend this to any female for sure, and any male who wants to understand the societal pressures put on girls to maintain a pure image (hopefully any male who has any type of relationship w ...more
Jan 24, 2009 Rachel rated it it was ok
I had the same frustration with this book that I experienced in Women's Studies classes- oh the ennui. I get bored listening to stories of people's experiences when we should be discussing the causes of modern sexism and misogyny. We should be asking, "Why isn't rape a hate crime?" We should be compiling hard data and campaigning for legislation- and we (women) should be publishing nonfiction that is well-supported, well-documented, and well-written (see The Body Project, Reviving Ophelia, Bitch ...more
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“Abstaining from sex, hitting the books, and wearing loose-fitting clothes are common ways that girls try to molt their "slutty" image. But more often their shame leads them to self-destructive behavior. They become willing to do things that they wouldn't have dreamed of doing before they were scandalized because they now feel they have so little to offer. Some girls do drugs or drink to excess in an attempt to blot away their stigma. Others become depressed and anorexic. And others think so little of themselves that they date boys who insult or beat them.” 23 likes
“When a stranger on the street makes a sexual comment, he is making a private assessment of me public. And though I’ve never been seriously worried that I would be attacked, it does make me feel unguarded, unprotected.

Regardless of his motive, the stranger on the street makes an assumption based on my physique: He presumes I might be receptive to his unpoetic, unsolicited comments. (Would he allow a friend to say “Nice tits” to his mother? His sister? His daughter?) And although I should know better, I, too, equate my body with my soul and the result, at least sometimes, is a deep shame of both.

Rape is a thousand times worse: The ultimate theft of self-control, it often leads to a breakdown in the victim’s sense of self-worth. Girls who are molested, for instance, often go on to engage in risky behavior—having intercourse at an early age, not using contraception, smoking, drinking, and doing drugs. This behavior, it seems to me, is at least in part because their self-perception as autonomous, worthy human beings in control of their environment has been taken from them.”
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